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The Gentle Art of Raking Leaves

November 23rd, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

In the past weeks and days an overall whirr is heard. At first I thought someone was taking a last swipe at mowing the lawn until I glimpsed the source of this distinctive sound. The dreaded Leaf Blower! I cannot abide the thing. It’s noisy, wasteful (to the conservation minded) and a great annoyance to neighboring households that have just completed their own clean-up which, by the way, used the same contraption to blow their leaves to your side of the property line. Tit for tat? Or just plain lazy?
What ever happened to the good old fashioned rake? Most people hate the very idea of exerting all that energy but just think of the workout you’re getting! I opt to handle the fall clean-up myself (declining the offer of my lawn service how ever tempting) and always wait until the huge Oak tree out front has finished undressing. By then it’s hoped that enough windy days will have passed to clear most of the debris to the four corners of the earth (or the four corners of my neighbor’s yard who happens to use a leaf blower). When the stubborn piles refuse to go and I can bear the unsightliness no longer, I will choose The Perfect Windless Day. This has thus far proven ineffective year after year, for no sooner than the first neat little pile is made, the wind will rear its ugly head and scatter them every which way. I swear softly to myself at first but the profanity becomes ever more audible and creative with each passing gust. I then begin to work up a sweat, removing the outer layer of clothing and hang it on a nearby trellis (or simply throw it on the ground, whichever is handier). I begin again – raking, piling, bending, scooping, hefting bag after bag to the garage door where I count the fruits of my labor with utter satisfaction. Why, I repeatedly ask myself, don’t people rake anymore??? Why, just look at what I’ve accomplished!
My clothes become a magnet for every leaf particle of Oak, Japanese Maple, Bartlett Pear and whatever else the woods across the way will toss at me. And toss it will. However, remember, I am a modern (or not so modern) day pioneer, stubborn and resourceful, sticking to her guns in the face of adversity. And when I’m through, by now fatigued beyond fatigue, and the last leaf is left on the lawn (okay, you win), I count the accumulated bags – 8 (count `em) 8 bags in all! With a sigh of contentment (or is it relief?) and in a groan of defeat (for the back portion of the property awaits renewed enthusiasm) I stumble bleary-eyed into the house.
The aches and stiffness (what is wrong with me?) experienced the day after is a rude reminder of my exercise in tackling nature’s offerings. And I’m only too happy to do it. Why? Because I’m still young enough, fit enough, and able-bodied. I AM WOMAN! Anyone hear a tarzan yell? Or was that Carol Burnett? Yes, the gentle art of raking leaves, if a lost one, is a gentle nudge toward time unstoppable. Happy Fall!
So……………..whadayathink? What’s your take on fall clean-up? Or do you even bother?

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3 Responses to “The Gentle Art of Raking Leaves”

  1. Allan Pechlo Says:

    I might be old fashioned, but I still use a rake on my lawn and a broom on my sidewalks. I prefer a rake, it not only does a better job with the bigger leaves but if you scrub your lawn hard enough you can get down to the roots and remove any matted down grass and thatch. I do own a leaf blower but I only use it to keep the carpeted deck by the pool and my kid’s trampoline clean.

    Your’re right about the noise, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been outside on a beautiful autumn day and had the peace and tranquility broken by the endless roar of leaf blowers, especially by those of the professional landscape crews that some of my neighbors have hired.

    On the other hand you have the other neighbors who do not rake at all, and let the wind blow their leaves away, usually my way. Then there are those who dispose of their leaves at the curb, hoping the town will take them away. The town eventually does take them away, but with the snowplow, again depositing them my way.

    Perhaps when it comes to my yard I have OCD. I rake at least once a week from mid-October until the snow covers the ground usually in January. All of my deciduous trees are ornamental and under 15 feet, and their leaf droppings are minimal, yet I fill at least three 40 gallon trash cans a week with the neighbor’s leaves and drive them over to the township’s recycling facility.

    This year I even went one step further and raked my neighbor’s front lawn. I had just finished faking my own lawn when the wind started picking up, so I thought to myself, I could rake them up today while they’re still on my neighbor’s lawn or rake them up tomorrow when they are on my lawn. Better to be proactive right?

    Let’s be optimistic and look forward to spring, when we can enjoy the multiplying swarms of mosquitoes that breed on the stagnate water filled covers of some of my neighbors un-opened pools. Perhaps, as I am swatting mosquitoes I will long for a few stray leaves, and then remember that raking is a small price to pay for enjoying the beauty of one of God’s finest creations… Trees.

  2. magdalena Says:

    Thank you for your thoughts. While on the topic of trees……..your final comment recalls a childhood poem, “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.” The tree in front of our house is the biggest on the block. The sad reason for this is because (before we bought the house) everyone opted to have theirs removed when the town installed sidewalks some years ago. All but one. The neighbor who owned our house before we did. Are people really that lazy that they would exchange all the benefits of shade and beauty for a leafless lawn? I think of this as they watch me raking from their windows. In summer I’ll watch them sweat as I enjoy the breeze as it filters through the old oak tree thanks to one neighbor who had the heart to leave it standing.

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